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Friday, May 16, 2014

Review: The Quick

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
The Quick
by Lauren Owen
Thriller/Historical Fiction
Amazon  /  Goodreads

Plot Summary:

London, 1892: James Norbury, a shy would-be poet newly down from Oxford, finds lodging with a charming young aristocrat. Through this new friendship, he is introduced to the drawing-rooms of high society, and finds love in an unexpected quarter. Then, suddenly, he vanishes without a trace. Unnerved, his sister, Charlotte, sets out from their crumbling country estate determined to find him. In the sinister, labyrinthine city that greets her, she uncovers a secret world at the margins populated by unforgettable characters: a female rope walker turned vigilante, a street urchin with a deadly secret, and the chilling “Doctor Knife.” But the answer to her brother’s disappearance ultimately lies within the doors of one of the country’s preeminent and mysterious institutions: The Aegolius Club, whose members include the most ambitious, and most dangerous, men in England.

In her first novel, Lauren Owen has created a fantastical world that is both beguiling and terrifying. The Quick will establish her as one of fiction’s most dazzling talents.

I don't feel that I reveal any major spoilers in my review of this book, but after looking at other reviews there seems to be a trend that people don't talk about what is actually a very large aspect of this story. Because it's not mentioned at all in the plot synopsis, if you don't want to know what that is, don't read this review.  But I want to reiterate, that had this been revealed in the plot synopsis it would have made me even more eager to read this book.  And I personally don't feel like knowing it will spoil the enjoyment of reading The Quick if you like Gothic, suspenseful stories.  


This was a fascinating read for me.  From the plot synopsis it isn't clear that this book deals with vampires, but I think I would have been even more eager to read it if I had known so I'm mentioning that now.  It's a different take on the vampire legend - and it explains them in a very matter-of-fact way which was really interesting.  The story takes on several points of view - from the unfortunate James Norbury, to the scientifically minded "Doctor Knife's" journal entries, to Charlotte and to a variety of other important characters who become the focus for a short time.  The shifting points of view was really well done and added to the suspense and insidious horror of the story.  And it really helped to establish all of these characters and make them all very unique and realistic.

The characters really make this book shine I think.  The beginning of the story establishes Charlotte and James Norbury's history and their rather sad, Gothic childhood.  The story moves quickly through their youth, but it does help to get to know their characters better to see them develop from these beginnings.  The true tragedy of what happens to James really hits home because of this - especially when he starts to find a measure of happiness in London.  There are more human characters introduced later who are important to Charlotte and James and are just as believable and engaging, with their life story being as poignant as the introduction to the Charlotte and James.

The other group of important characters in this story are the vampires.  I love vampire stories.  They have an intriguing mystique about them, but this books strips all of that away.  They are raw and real and not very attractive in this book, but they are still not really the villains.  They cause some terrible things, but they are just trying to live, like the humans are, and I found that take on them to be very refreshing.  Many of the characters in this book can be both disturbing and sympathetic at times and I was really impressed by how well the author brought this varied cast together in such an absorbing way.

The reason I didn't completely love this book though was because at the end of the story I wasn't sure how I was supposed to feel.  The story was very enjoyable, but I didn't feel a sense of closure with it.  It's hard for me to describe, because there is the sense of an ending (although something is left up in the air) but after the really disturbing things that happen to these characters, I didn't feel like there was a point to it - a meaning for all the horror.  I generally felt pretty depressed about it all actually - even the one redeeming and uplifting plot point near the end was almost immediately soured by a jump in time where we see what happened to some of these characters.  This is probably a personal thing though, as I'm sure many people will appreciate the choices the author makes in wrapping up her story in a way that is true to the tone and the experiences of these characters.

This novel has a very interesting take on vampire lore, some really provocative horror, and very well-developed characters.  The pace is often leisurely, but there are many thrilling and suspenseful moments to keep you turning pages.  I enjoyed the writing and the craft of this book as well, so for all of those things I would recommend checking out this book if you are interested!

(I received this book from the publisher or author for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review.)

Check out the other stops on this book's tour!
This book will be released June 17, 2014

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  1. I just quickly scanned your review because I have this book on order, but I saw on Twitter about the fact they are vampires and I don't think that person realized what they were revealing. I wonder why they decided not to include that information in the plot synopsis.

  2. Oh so it's a Gothic vampire story? Interesting... I might have to check this one out. :) Thanks for the review!

  3. Oh good, I didn't think it was a big deal to know there are vampires in this, but I'm glad I didn't spoil it for you! :) I think it would have made this sound more interesting if they did include that bit of info! The synopsis almost gives the feeling that this book will be about circus people or something with the rope walker and Dr. Knife mentions. It's misleading, and maybe they wanted that, but I think it's a mistake.

  4. Hopefully the vampire aspect piqued your interest - it's nice to know if people find that bit of info helpful! :) I hope you enjoy it if you get a chance to read it!

  5. Surprise! Vampires! haha I love it when you get oddball surprises like that. Oh and you know I really don't like it when I feel like things are left unsettled.

  6. It's about vampires? So didn't see that coming! I am reading The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin right now and the major plot point of the book is not mentioned in the synopsis either. I've been trying to decide if I should say anything or not, but am reserving the decision until I finish it. But it is revealed in the third chapter. All the plot summary says is that something unexpected comes into his life and changes him. But it kind of makes the story amazing so hmmm...what to do, what to do. Maybe I can preface my review like yours lol

  7. Thanks for being a part of the tour.